Six months online

Another milestone has been reached today by reaching my six month anniversary. In those six months I’ve posted roughly 150 of my ramblings about food and drinks that I label as unusual. If you read my blog often you will know that “unusual” doesn’t always mean disgusting. I sometimes write about things like balls, brains and blood, but more often than not I write about flavor combinations that are unusual to me, or special editions of famous snacks.

I’m super excited when I get a new follower or when someone leaves a message, so a big thank you to everyone who has commented on or followed my blog. It has been a great motivator to keep me going. Otherwise I might have been faced with something that I wouldn’t want to eat, but now I often think “I have to do it, for my blog and my readers.” Thanks again guys.

Let’s look back at the past six months and see what my favorite and least favorite items were.

Favorite foods and drinks
Truffle ice-cream
Braised pork cheek
Green tea & chocolate egg waffles
Molecular xiaolongbao
Rosemary crème brulee

Least favorite foods and drinks
Durian
Pig’s blood cake
Cucumber chips
Durian chocolate
Strawberry KitKats

Biggest surprises
Bull’s testicle
Schmaltz
Goat curry
Chicken hearts
Corn ice-cream

Absinthe

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Absinthe is a very strong alcoholic drink that’s often portrayed in films as the mythical green fairy. It is made with a handful of herbs such as wormwood, which is said to give the drink hallucinogenic properties. For that reason it had been made illegal in many countries, including my home country of Holland. In fact, it has never been proven that absinthe is any more dangerous than regular alcohol.

In Krakow, Poland there is a bar called Absynt that, as you might have guessed, specializes in the green drink. I’ve seen absinthe prepared in movies before, and I always wanted to try, so here was my big chance.

The bartender first gave me a small tap of water and a bucket of ice. I could add as much of each as I wanted as the drink was 70% alcohol, and thus very strong. He then put what looked like a cake shovel on the glass with a sugar cube on top of that. The sugar was set on fire left to melt into the glass. I was advised to taste just a drop in order to check how much water I wanted to add.

To be honest, I didn’t feel like adding much water at all. The taste of anise seed was very strong, just like a French pastis or Greek ouzo. For me, it didn’t even feel that strong, but I didn’t want to look like a drunk either, so I did add some water and ice. It was a great ritual to experience, and I did like the drink, but it’s a bit elaborate and a little more expensive than other drinks.

Fear Factor – 4 / Taste Test – 9

Green tea & chocolate cookies

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I think this will mark my final thoughts on green tea, as I have tried a handful of different matcha desserts, and have written just as many blog entries about it. It was unusual at first bite, but it has steadily become normal, and I’m even starting to like it.

Recently I bought a green tea and chocolate cookie that turned out to be a sandwich of two matcha cookies with white chocolate in the middle. The cookies were super soft and crumbly with just a hint of the green tea, and the white chocolate gave it that added bit of sweetness. There was enough matcha powder used to let you taste the tea, but not too much so that it tastes grassy. This was by far the best green tea item I’ve yet tried.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 9  

100th post: help me choose my next dish

This is my one hundredth post on my blog, and I decided to make today’s post a special occasion. Today I won’t describe what unusual food I’ve eaten, but I am calling on my followers to help me choose what to eat next.

From July 9th to July 12th I will be on holiday in Poland and I’ve made reservations at a wonderful restaurant called Ed Red in Krakow. This place is renowned for their grilled steaks and use of local produce. Their menu also offers a lot of starters from the nose-to-tail dining category. Of course I can only choose one starter, but which one will it be?

Have a look at the list of starters below, and leave a reply to tell me which dish to choose. Obviously the dish with the most votes is the one that I will be going for. And now for the menu:

* Stuffed pig’s head with mushrooms on lentil salad

* Veal offal 5 ways – liver, sweetbread, tongue, cheeks, cerebellum

* Marrow bone with ox tail jam, radish and herbs

* Blood sausage with onion preserve and apple on fried bread

* Mountain oysters (bull testicle) with smoked white chocolate sauce and pickled grapes

Marmite toast

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Whenever I asked my British expat friends in China what food they missed most from home, they would often say “marmite”. I didn’t really know what marmite was, but I knew you could use it to make gravies and sauces. It turns out that marmite is the leftover yeast of the beer brewing process that is concentrated.

Many British people eat marmite plain on a slice of toast, so that’s what I set out to do. Marmite has a very strong flavor that I can only describe with that illustrious Japanese word “umami”. It’s very savory, meaty even, and also has a strong sourness to it. It’s too strong for me to eat plain on toast, but I can definitely see myself using it for a nice gravy.

Fear Factor – 4 / Taste Test – 5

Welcome

Welcome to “off the bitten path”, my blog about the unusual tastes from around the world.

I decided to start this blog after having lived in China for almost 6 years. During those years in China, and during my travels abroad, I’ve come in contact with foods and drinks I would not normally eat. This could be animals I’m not used to eating, parts of animals I’m not used to eating, flavor combinations I’m not used to eating or anything else that strikes me as odd.

In this blog I will describe the products I tried and tested and score them according to the “fear factor” and the “taste test”. The fear factor tell you how much, or indeed how little, I was looking forward to trying that item. A low score means I wasn’t worried at all, but a high score tell you I was at the point of giving up.

Some of the items in this blog might not strike you as odd at all. Depending on where you’re from, it might be perfectly normal for you. Just remember what’s normal for you, might be strange to others.

Allow me to take you on a journey to the wonderfully weird, the utterly unusual, the seemingly strange and the blatantly bizarre.